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“Beauty is Goodness, Goodness Beauty”: Shelley’s “Awful Shadow” and “Ethical Sublime”

Chung-hsuan Tung

Intergrams 8.2-9.1 (2008):

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are three great human ideals belonging to epistemological, aesthetic, and ethical categories, respectively. all other Forms or Ideas including Truth and Beauty. But they are often not easily differentiated. For Plato Goodness is the supreme Form or Idea governing For Keats Beauty and Truth are identical. For Shelley “Beauty is Goodness, Goodness Beauty.” Rather than an aesthete, Shelley is primarily a moralist preoccupied with Goodness: his works are often directly linkable to his social, political, and religious status quo and his poetic theory tends towards the pragmatism of doing good. What Shelley calls “intellectual Shelley beauty” is but “inner beauty” or “virtuous goodness” that finds its embodiment in an ideal maid or a revolutionary soul mate, who represents Shelleyan virtues. “awe-inspiring.”

uses the word “shadow” very often: it can be “awful” in the sense of “very bad” or Shelley’s “awful shadow” is often no other than “intellectual It is connected with Shelley exploits “the sublime” ethically: In the final analysis, Shelley’s “ethical beauty,” an ideal form originated from the Supreme Goodness. the 18 -century idea of “the sublime.”

seeing an invisible, beneficent, supreme power hidden in nature but directing the world in its revolutionary course of change. sublime” expresses clearly his Platonism or idealism, explaining meanwhile his radicalism, atheism, pragmatic theory of poetry and defects in writing poetry. Key words and phrase: 1. truth, beauty, goodness radicalism, atheism 2. intellectual beauty 3. shadow 4. the awful shadow

5. the sublime and the beautiful 6. the ethical sublime 7. Platonism, idealism,


I. Truth, Beauty, Goodness Truth, beauty, and goodness are said to be “the great transcendents of the classical tradition” or “qualities of divinity” or “three great ideals ... representing the sublime nature and lofty goal of all human endeavor.”1 Whatever they are, they are indeed “an ancient and venerable triad of values,” and, as Steve Mcintosh conceives them, they “actually serve as attractors of evolutionary development that pull evolution forward ‘from the inside’ through their influence on consciousness.”2 Western philosophers have from the very beginning been concerned with problems divisible into these three basic categories of ideals or values. Plato’s metaphysical theory of Forms, for example, is primarily concerned with the epistemological category of Truth; his mimetic theory of art and his idea of the artist as divinely inspired have stepped into the aesthetic category of Beauty; and his consideration of justice and other virtues of state and soul deals all too obviously with the ethical category of Goodness. respectively? The word “truth” certainly can refer to a human being’s quality or state of “being true”: to loyalty, trustworthiness, sincerity, genuineness, honesty, etc. also refer to a statement’s being in accordance with experience, facts, or reality. speech or behavior. It can And But what exactly are truth, beauty and goodness,

it can ultimately refer to reality itself. A moralist may praise a person for his truthful A scientist may claim truth for a scientific fact or statement. Yet, it takes a metaphysician to tell us that truth is not just what is verifiable and tangible before our eyes, but, rather, as Plato conceives it, the unchanging Form, the invisible Universal, or the immaterial, abstract Idea. Besides referring narrowly to good looks or a very good-looking woman, the word “beauty” designates broadly the quality, or the thing having the quality, attributed to “whatever pleases or satisfies the senses or mind, as by line, color, form, texture, proportion, rhythmic motion, tone, etc., or by behavior, attitude, etc.”3 What provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction is sensual or outer beauty; what pleases or satisfies the mind is often such mental or inner beauty as kindness, sensitivity, tenderness, compassion, creativity, or intelligence. But, for a metaphysician like Plato, the real beauty is the absolute form of Beauty, the one abstract Beauty that is distinct from each and all of the beautiful things and separate from them, which is “completely beautiful, purely beautiful, unchangingly beautiful” (Urmson 297). As an abstract noun, “goodness” indicates the state or quality of being good. But a vast variety of things can be good. Goodness can come from being suitable to a purpose or from producing a favorable result.

We have good lamps, good eggs,

I have repeatedly referred to Plato on purpose. as James A. in introducing the ideas of truth. often refer to a loyal. and justice. he has also mixed up an aesthetic idea with an ethical one. beauty. Goodness or the Good is finally the highest idea and the source of all the rest of ideas. and benevolence. all ideas or forms “are logically interrelated and constitute a hierarchy. Notopoulos has suggested. Ordinary people. in Plato’s doctrine. it is said. honest person as either “good” or “true” and say that kindness is a person’s “good virtue” or “inner beauty. Indeed. they are “eternal and immutable” entities that “subsist independently of any knowing mind” though they can be “apprehended by reason” (Thilly 82). as well as non-spatial”. Plato. truth. generosity. beauty. and goodness are all highly valuable ideas or forms. beauty. Shelly vs. When used in conjunction with “truth” and “beauty.”4 In fact. in Plato’s doctrine. and all ideas or forms are for him “non-temporal. aesthetic. First. or whatever). and the world as an intelligence. what I need to emphasize particularly are two points.” meaning “moral excellence” and referring to such things as kindness. Second. recognizes But for Plato four cardinal virtues: wisdom. Shelley is heavily In influenced by Plato: he read Plato and translated Plato’s work. in which the higher forms ‘communicate’ with lower or subordinate forms. Although truth. And when Plato ranks goodness as the supreme idea. II. good eyesight. Keats 3 . and ethical realms.” however. he has subsumed the idea that “the truly real and the truly good are identical” (Thilly 81). when Socrates says that beauty is prepei (appropriate). good excuse. well-ordered cosmos.’ which while blander than ‘beautiful’ is suitable to both ethical and aesthetic contexts. As many critics have pointed out.” This laxity of verbal usage is in effect like the ambiguity found in Plato’s use of the word kalon to mean both “beautiful” and “noble” so that “exact translators prefer to render kalon as ‘fine. and goodness. philosophers as well as ordinary people often fail to distinguish among them. moderation. goodness is naturally singled out as “the logos. as Plato’s cosmology is “an attempt to explain reality as a purposeful. etc. beauty. good men.good exercise. for instance. and goodness. his Platonism is a unity of all kinds of Platonism. and goodness seemingly occupy three distinct and separate realms (call them epistemological.” and “the supreme form in the hierarchy is the form of the Good” (Thilly 82). and. courage. “goodness” is restricted to an ethical sense: it is synonymous with “virtue.5 relating Shelley and Plato to the topic of truth. the cosmic purpose” (Thilly 81) to govern all other ideas including truth and beauty. So far. guided by reason and directed toward an ethical goal” (Thilly 84). however.

guessable facts along with some mysterious details beyond our surmise.” and with lovers “for ever panting. it is like truth or it is a truth.” And the “still steadfast. Truth As we know. If the urn with its pictures But while the urn and figures represents the eternal./With forest branches and the trodden weed” (1-2. Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art. the unreliability of phenomena. of course. truth beauty. Keats’s Grecian urn does contain for him truth and beauty (Brooks 21). a generalization which is exemplified by the urn itself.” largely express that agony. and immortal. may be some plain. and beauty are in fact the two values Keats lived for. all romantics feel keenly the inevitability of change. Facing the ephemeral. for this agony. represents truth on the one hand. nor did he seek 4 ./Thou shall remain” (46-47). and for ever young” (5. 44-45). brought about by change.” and “Why Did I Laugh Tonight? No Voice Will Tell. for it is called not only “still unravished bride of quietness” and “foster-child of silence and slow time” but also “Attic shape” and “Fair attitude” with “brede/Of marble men and maidens overwrought. “we ordinarily do not expect an urn to speak at all” (155).” it is “telling. “Naught may endure but But Keats felt even more keenly the romantic agony His own anticipated short life naturally accounts largely Mutability” (“Mutability. This aspiration is uttered most impressively in Keats’s “Bright Star. unchangeable. with figures “for ever piping songs for ever new. romantics naturally aspire after what is eternal.” not so much in words as in what it shows.” “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be. while the streets of the little town in another picture on the urn “for evermore/Will silent be” (38-39). truth beauty”: a beautiful piece of art like the urn will forever remain. and its “leaf-fringed legend” will forever haunt about its shape with boughs that cannot shed leaves. Keats. as described in the poem. represents the eternal. truth beauty. it nonetheless represents beauty on the other hand.” As Cleanth Brooks has pointed out. when the urn says “Beauty is truth. did not actually reach for the bright star. and so it is qualified to tell man that “Beauty is truth. it will continue to tell its “flowery tale” and “tease us out of thought/As doth eternity” (4. In fact. just as the urn does. And his poems. typifies both beauty and truth.It is well-known that in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” Keats makes the urn say to man: “Beauty is truth. 27). When it remains. such as “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles. ephemerality of all things. 24. for “when old age shall this generation waste. The urn. So it is only in the poet’s imagination that the urn is personified and claimed to be able to say anything to man. to show us its beauty as well as the truth it contains. in other words. and the That is why Shelley says. as truth does. 41-42).” 16). still unchangeable” bright star is naturally linkable to the Platonic idea of Truth as the unchanging Form. ever-changing world. though what it contains. The well-wrought urn.

Compared with Keats. Shelley is not so pure an aesthete. that I may overwhelm Myself in poesy.” a theory on how immortal delight may derive from “a fellowship with essence. Keats is for sure the most purely devoted poet to poetry and the purest aesthete among the English romantic poets. and a sleep Full of sweet dreams. fame.” 36-37).. imagination or ‘the viewless wings of Poesy’) cannot cheat so well/As she is famed to do” (“Ode to a Nightingale. so I may do the deed That my own soul has to itself decreed. that poesy is not “so sweet as drowsy noons. he will first “pass the realm of Flora and old Pan” and then deal with “the agonies./And evenings steeped in honied indolence” (“Ode on Indolence. and beauty is “seized” by imagination. the strife/Of human hearts” (101. (96-98) He even tells us that he has his regimen of poetic training: following Virgil. also concerns himself with ethics. “what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth” and for him “the Imagination may be compared to Adam’s dream—he awoke and found it truth. and health. Nevertheless. In Keats’s poetic career. it is his embodiment of beauty and truth. beauty is indeed truth. there were times of course when he felt that “death is intenser than verse. He tells us his goal in Sleep and Poetry: O for ten years. it will never Pass into nothingness. It follows. does not merely profess that Its loveliness increases. 73-74). and quiet breathing.” 33. Now.blindly for the abstract and invisible Platonic truth. Keats. and that “the fancy (i.e. for he never seems to be content with the duad of truth and beauty: he yearns more for goodness. to After be sure. from purging away mutability from the things of beauty by fusing ourselves “first 5 claiming “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” at the very beginning of Endymion. 124-5). for Keats.”6 So. then. that poetry is Keats’s lifelong goal. what Keats’s imagination seizes as beauty (“the truth of imagination” as he called it) is naturally the poet’s vision. He seems to be the most wholly immersed in the duad of truth and beauty. with the realm of goodness.” that is. For him. which can be rendered into poetry. and beauty” (“Why Did I Laugh Tonight?” 13-14). but still will keep A bower quiet for us. (2-5) Keats has in fact gone on to tell us a theory of the “pleasure thermometer. he .

This may be part of the reason why the epic stays unfinished. with the lovely objects of nature and art. Oceanus’ “first in beauty” (instead of “first in goodness”) is a phrase picked by Keats. and ‘load every rift’ of your subject with ore” (letter to Shelley. But this moral tone cannot be sustained by the story of how Hyperion fell in the course of time. is repeatedly revealed in his letters. too. not for morality. and dulled its brightness. rather than goodness. the story has grown into a dream vision. that makes him “hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us” (letter to John Hamilton Reynolds. then on a higher level. 257). Keats’s preoccupation with beauty. which is primarily aesthetic rather than ethic in nature./A humanist..” When Keats touched Greek mythology again in Hyperion (1818) or The Fall of Hyperion (1819). too. “. However. Saturn was dethroned not by blank unreason and injustice. ultimately. In The Fall of Hyperion. but by a higher excellence in the natural progressing of things or the stage-by-stage development of time. And it is his preoccupation with beauty.. Moneta admonishes the poet to ascend steps and usurp the height of poetry by becoming one of “those to whom the miseries of the world/Are misery. or rather obliterates all consideration” (Bush 261). II. offered by Oceanus is: “. that is.” In the induction.sensuously. with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration.. “I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece. involving the theme of “the growth of a poet’s mind. He proposed to solve the But the answer problem of “unde malum?” (whence and why evil?) in Hyperion. Keats’s ethical concern (with the poet’s social or moral function) somehow fails to go well with his beautiful mythology. ‘tis the eternal law/That first in beauty should be first in might” (Hyperion. and it betrays Keats’s propensity for replacing ethical terms with aesthetic ones. and it contains an induction somewhat like Wordsworth’s The Prelude. August 16. in Bush 263). sexual love. in Bush 298). 1817) that “what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth” (Bush We may recall. that to George and Thomas Keats (in a letter of December It is his 21. that makes him advise Shelley impolitely: “you might curb your magnanimity and be more of an artist. physician to all men” (189-90). preoccupation with beauty. not with goodness: the poetic romance of Endymion is told for pleasure. with other human beings through ‘love and friendship’ and. Keats’s chief concern here is with beauty. and will not let them rest” (148-9). 1817) he says. In Oceanus’ view. Shelley showed his magnanimity not only in inviting Keats (who was ill) to 6 . We have mentioned that he told Benjamin Bailey (in a letter of November 22. 1820. February 3. That is why Keats says in the Preface. by becoming “a sage. 228-9)..”7 This content has indeed combined truth (immortality) with beauty and goodness (love and friendship). 1818. he had at first meant to be ethical. of course.

In contrast. but also in his prose. very much of Shelley’s work is all too easily connected with his reactions to the contemporary affairs of church or state. Shelley has expressed his theory of historical evolution: “history is essentially a struggle between two sets of forces. and his letters and work show a constant attention to the development of such movements—in Spain. When he drowned in 1822. philosophy: Shelley’s analysis of the contemporary situation in England and its reform movement will be found in “The Mask of Anarchy” and “Swellfoot the Tyrant”. the forces of liberty and the forces of despotism” (Cameron 512). 661). equality. but also in his lifelong fighting for the benefit of mankind. needless to say.” he has “dedicated his life to a war against injustice and oppression” (Abrams et al. was a radical organ free from prosecution by the British authorities but good to publish their revolutionary ideas for the good of society. According to Kenneth Neill Cameron. In regard to the continent of Europe Shelley “felt that the existing despotic governments could be overthrown only by revolution. South America and Ireland” (Cameron 514). In his A Philosophical View of Reform. no matter whether he was in England or elsewhere on the Continent. 1819. Anyone who reads Shelley’s biography is sure to have the impression that Shelley was indeed a revolutionary before a poet. Very little of Keats’s work is manifestly linkable to his contemporary political or religious status quo. Shelley never ceased to speak for the revolutionary ideals of liberty. which. in Paris. in the “Ode Written in October. in Naples. his interpretation of the rise and fall of the French Revolution and the emergence of the tyranny of the Quadruple 7 Shelley’s poetry also plainly shows the same social . and fraternity. in Greece. in his support for freedom of the press and the extension of equal rights to Catholics and in his hostility to the coercions of church and state. Since his Eton days when from his own experience “he saw the petty tyranny of schoolmasters and schoolmates as representative of man’s general inhumanity to man. he was collaborating with Leigh Hunt and Byron on the journal The Liberal. In other years. In 1812. he visited Ireland to engage in radical pamphleteering and was seen at several political rallies.” the “Ode to Liberty”—on the Spanish revolution of 1820—the “Ode to Naples”—on the war of the Kingdom of Naples against Austrian domination—and “Hellas”—on the Greek struggle for liberation from the Turkish empire. Shelley has left us a picture of his social philosophy not in his poetry alone.come and stay with the Shelleys in Pisa for the winter. as well as in Mexico. his views on the revolutionary movement on the continent.

in “Queen Mab” and “Prometheus Unbound. in Ingpen. we naturally expect to see a piling up of praises for the beauty of the subject or object. However. in a word the good which exists in the relation.” Shelley believes that “to be a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful. his general theory of historical evolution. the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.” and that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world” (A Defense of Poetry. in “The Revolt of Islam”. must imagine intensely and comprehensively. But. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination. So.” (Cameron 515) Even Shelley’s poetic theory is widely different from Keats’s in that one tends more towards a pragmatic theory emphasizing the poetic function of doing good while the other tends more towards an objective theory stressing the function of creating beauty. to be greatly good. and poetry administers to the effect by acting upon the cause. This is best illustrated in his habit of using ethical terms for an aesthetic And his “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” serves as an obvious example. the best means for moral training: A man. he did go much further than Keats into the realm of goodness: his life was a struggle for mankind’s moral reformation and social change. 8 . Poetry strengthens that faculty which is the organ of the moral nature of man. and his work was written primarily for the sake of goodness rather than beauty. and which form new intervals and interstices whose void for ever craves fresh food. for Shelley poetry is not just to delight but to Poetry is. 111-2 &140). he must put himself in the place of another and of many others. Poetry enlarges the circumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight. which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their own nature all other thoughts. 118) III.Alliance. While Keats asserts that “with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration. VII. object. furthermore. instruct as well. as we have suggested above. (A Defense of Poetry. in Ingpen. in the same manner as exercise strengthens a limb. Beauty Is Goodness Shelley never let an urn or anything else tell us directly that beauty is goodness. as the poem As “Beauty” is the subject (and object) of the hymn. VII.

419).” that is. the Planet. or wise. In fact. 83-84). This “Intellectual Beauty” is best represented by the Being the Poet in Alastor images to himself as his ideal love. falls in love with a vision of his ‘soul mate.” it is expected to “free/This world from its dark slavery. what we see is at first an emphasis on the Beauty’s being “Intellectual. 159-61). the maid represents the Poet’s ideal beauty and ideal goodness./Thoughts the most dear to him [the Poet]. 42. a 19-year-old daughter of the governor of Pisa in 1820. but she attracted Shelley’s interest and became his ideal object of love.e.. Gibson that “the youth [i.. Now. we must know that Alastor is highly autobiographical. and poesy” (Alastor.proceeds.. In Epipsychidion. the philosopher. the Moon. exploited in the poem. I. No matter whether Emily can be identified with Teresa or not. the “Sweet Spirit” or “Seraph of Heaven” (1.e. another highly autobiographical poem of Shelley’s.. Anna.” and its spells did bind the poet to “fear himself and love all human kind” (13. which the poet. etc. 36. 158). nonmaterial. or beautiful. 21) has a name (Emily). White that “the over-idealistic poet as described in both the Preface and the poem is undoubtedly Shelley” (I. 151-3. The maid in Alastor is an unnamed person with “intellectual beauty” or virtuous goodness. this youth is so similar to Shelley himself that we may safely assert that the maid is indeed the embodiment of Shelley’s “intellectual beauty. 69-70.” its light “gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream. we can at least agree with Evan K. In other words. the Poet] of the poem has a number of characteristics in common with his creator [i. Teresa was confined in the Convent of St. talking in low solemn tones”: “Her voice was like the voice of his own soul” and “Knowledge and truth and virtue were her theme” (Alastor. the Comet.’ a creation of his own mind.” which is but another name for the idealist’s idea or form of Goodness.. Shelley]” (568). 173). The Poet “dreamed a veiled maid/Sate near him. the maid is “Herself a poet” and her theme includes “lofty hopes of divine liberty. thus “unseen among us” (2). and no matter what biographical facts scholars can gather about the symbols of the Sun. and perishes of disappointment” (Gibson 548). If the poem is “the story of a youth who. after living a life of solitude. Then we find this “Spirit of Beauty” is described as no other than the possessor of what we often call “inner beauty” or “goodness” since it does “consecrate . or the lover could depicture” (Ingpen.” it is the “messenger of sympathies.. we are sure that Emily represents the Being whom Shelley’s spirit often “met on its visioned wanderings” and whom Shelley once met but could not behold because she 9 . I. the maid is “the vision in which he [the Poet] embodies his own imaginations” and the vision actually “unites all of wonderful. If we cannot agree with N. and the maid is identified with Teresa Viviani. As Shelley explains in the Preface to this poem.

But it is even more like Shelley says. I. an idealized soul mate and a spiritual inspiration for Shelley. Shelley’s ideal beauty is indeed the possessor not only of physical or outer beauty but of intellectual or inner beauty. 1822 to John Gisborne. spiritual merging of souls. 199). we In the Advertisement.” (Epipsychidion. or truth. In Greek. While most critics take Emily as an imagined target for sexual completion (in the sense of physical coition. a lack projected into the feminine Other. 135.. need not probe so deeply into the psyche. just like Beatrice Portinari. 132-4)./Instinct with inexpressible beauty and grace” (Queen Mab. the poem is as autobiographical as La Vita Nuova.” and Thus. I believe. the poem is said to In a letter of June 18. the loved Beatrice is a glorious agent or symbol of the divine. who has become Dante’s idealized. Indeed. As Emily is Shelley’s Beatrice. although her soul can now stand “All beautiful in naked purity. as we know. therefore. she can be no other than the archetype of “intellectual beauty” or virtuous goodness. Shelley. “epi” is a preposition meaning “upon. Emily is naturally the “little soul” that Psychoanalytical critics have interpreted the poem “psychidion” means “little soul. Ghislaine McDayter takes her as a case to explain the poet-speaker’s trace of primary castration. IX. 3718). So Ianthe needs Queen Mab’s teaching to become “sincere and good” and have virtue to keep her footsteps in the path she has trod (Queen Mab. As we know. 130). she is the hero’s soul mate as well. or love. 200-6). thus. Shelley refers to Emily as “the Vision veiled from [him]/So many years” (343-4). whose struggle along with Loan is to leave us “All hope. she is aptly called “A divine presence in a place divine” and apostrophized as “Spouse! Sister! Angel! Pilot of the Fate . Shelley calls the revolution of Laon and Cythna “the beau ideal as it were of the French Revolution” 10 .. In Epipsychidion. “It is an idealized history of my life and feelings” (Ingpen. kept his revolutionary spirit all his life and. 401)./The perfect semblance of its bodily frame. psychoanalytical interpretation may be plausible in its own right.” Shelley asks to mate with. or returning to maternal plenitude). is not just Laon’s sister or sweetheart. muse-like. which may change but cannot die” (112-4). Each Yet. the valuable women in his work are often those who can sympathize with his struggle against tyranny and injustice. Dante’s work in that Emily has become a muse-like figure. Dante’s conception of love is Platonic: for him true love is possible only for the innately good and the noble-hearted. be like the Vita Nuova of Dante. Cythna.was “robed in such exceeding glory” (191. soul mate and spiritual inspiration. real in body but ideal in soul. 216). That is why she is said to be “a mortal shape indued/With love and life and light and deity./And motion variously. IX. As she is “soft as an Incarnation of the Sun” and “her Spirit was the harmony of truth” (335. X. or liberty” (Laon and Cythna.

in Ingpen. According to Lori Molinari. her union with Prometheus through love brings the world “Gentleness. can also be counted as one of those who fit Shelley’s “favorite pattern of tyrant. “had 11 Iona’s revengeful revolution is not in line with that of Prometheus Unbound or Laon and Cythna. Iona Taurina in Swellfoot the Tyrant is not the beau ideal for a revolutionary heroine.114). and forced to become a determined liar. October 13. after overthrowing tyranny. Leigh Hunt’s tenor of life has illustrated (Ingpen.4. Amazonian Cythna. revenge is “a particularly dangerous form of ‘loathsome sympathy’ for Shelley” (87). remorse” and reminds him that Prometheus gave mankind hopes. moral reformation is also most important. (Prometheus Unbound. in his own words. Virtue.” “The all-beholding Sun. At the end. madness. but she remains. Schmid remarks: “Where both of the Odes can be seen to use conventional virginal and/or matronly female images to celebrate the possibilities for national independence latent in the 1820 constitutional declarations of Spain and Naples.). 1817.19ff. In contrast to the virtuous maids as mentioned above.3. fire. goodness. crime. nor is she depicted as a heroine of virtuous . slaves and resisting heroine” (King-Hele 133). In Prometheus Unbound. eager to learn and quite passive until roused by an intuition of Prometheus’s release” (King-Kele 184). however. “the angel of [God’s] wrath” (The Cenci. unlike the confident. she is at first “submissive. In the play. love. Shelley says. in effect. Wisdom and Endurance” (4. coerced into parricide. the Witch of Atlas is a sort of “la belle dame sans merci.(letter to a publisher. Swellfoot the Tyrant employs a radically eroticized and sexually powerful representation of Caroline of Brunswick to question England’s own readiness for constitutional reform” (76). In other words. who stand for domestic and political tyranny and imposture. She asks Demogorgon the question of “who made terror. etc. Cythna and Asia. Beatrice is She is stained by her Shelley’s image of a holy girl ruined by a tyrannical father and a religious authority. IX. “the revolution Shelley envisions is primarily moral and psychological rather than political or military” (99). She is not as chastely devoted and wise as Comparing the satirical drama with “Ode to Naples” and “Ode to Liberty.” Shelley writes. In the play’s Dedication. Beatrice is still a maid embodying intellectual beauty or virtuous goodness although. 67). and Asia is also a revolutionary’s soul mate although. 251). father’s rape. Shelley mentions the “patient and irreconcilable enmity with domestic and political tyranny and imposture” which. II. speech.562). as Michael O’Neill has suggested. 2.” Thomas H. 5. What makes the beau ideal in the revolution is the couple’s gradualist approach of using the power of words to effect moral reformation. diffident. As a contrast to Cythna and Asia. Beatrice in The Cenci.

the sky-lark is IV. 324-5). when Shelley asks that “From the world’s bitter wind/[the reader should] Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb” (Adonais. a golden When the poet says. etc. but also the fact that the high-in-the-sky lark can be a symbol of high nobility. Yet. she has no real substance of intellectual beauty or virtuous goodness. 61). the shadow suggests not only a dark shade but also something perpetually accompanying someone. “Where nothing is—but all things seem. beauty only.” for instance. “Thou of death must deem/Things more true and deep/Than we mortals dream” (82-84). But Shelley has put this idea into practice not only in dealing with women but also in writing about a thing of beauty./And we the shadows of the dream” (9-12). What he emphasizes in the poem is not only the fact that the unseen. indeed sublimated with divinity. 58-60. singing lark can be a symbol of “unbodied joy” (15). we will find that the word is very ambiguous in connotation. she is in fact “a sexless thing” or “like a sexless bee/Tasting all blossoms and confined to none”: she will “pass with an eye serene and heart unladen” among “mortal men” (329. She is indeed a wizard-maiden lacking understanding In other words. If we look closely into its contexts.” but “little did [any] sight disturb her soul” (665-6. the shadows suggest insubstantiality besides darkness. 545). he elevates the bird to the level of a “blithe Spirit” and a “Scorner of the ground” (1 & 100). For Shelley goodness is certainly the sublimated level of beauty. A woman’s physical beauty has to be elevated to the level of intellectual beauty to become immortal and worthy of high esteem. She “played pranks among the cities/Of mortal men. 137-9). a high-born maiden. the shadow suggests safety in the dark besides its cool shade. an embowered rose. When Julian says. of course. and every thing beside/Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade” (The Witch of Atlas. The sublimation or elevation of beauty is a Platonic idea. which will leave me not When in the Conclusion of The again” (Julian and Maddalo. the shadow may mean just a shade. Sensitive Plant the narrator says. However. “I met pale Pain/My shadow. 12 . 589-92). In “To a’er beholden/In his wide voyage o’er continents and seas/So fair a creature”: “her beauty made/The bright world dim. Shadow is of course a shade or a dark image in direct contrast to light. glow-worm. The Awful Shadow The word “shadow” occurs very frequently in Shelley’s works. That is why it can be called “Scorner of the ground” and compared to a hidden poet. 457-8). When the Witch of Atlas is depicted as lying “enfolden in the warm shadow of her loveliness” (The Witch of Atlas. she has physical sympathy with the problems of mortal creatures.

which is a part of the unconscious mind derived from repressed weaknesses. On the one hand. 13 being unreal. etc. Asia sees a “Spirit with a dreadful countenance” (Act 2. As a Platonist. The awful shadow has indeed become “awful Loveliness” (71).) and in his works (the Sultan Turnkey. Jupiter. According to Carl Jung. it certainly represents “our darker side. Here. kings. to but wholly obsessed with the Jungian type of shadows. “Sudden./I shrieked. Mahmud. “I am the shadow of a destiny/More dread than is my aspect” (Act 2. the shadows connote evil secrecy in addition to any possible sense.” But it is feasible to point out the basic types of connotations existing in Shelley’s mind for the word “shadow. the part of ourselves we would prefer not to confront. shortcomings. “Shadow of annoyance/Never came near thee” (“To the Sky-Lark./Like Sidmouth” (22-240). he must have been influenced by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. church leaders. which include the despots. he does regard it as an awe-inspiring presence that causes fear.” 1). devils. The Spirit says. and clasped my hands in extacy” (59-60). That is why he further says. is a Platonist. Anarchy. and instincts.” In Prometheus Unbound.” Shelley. as with light/And the shadows of the night. those aspects that we dislike” (Dobie 57). Shelley is strongly opposed Now.” But for Shelley a shadow is often not repugnant but “awful” in the sense of “awe-inspiring” and “fear-causing. state ministers. shadows as unreal or insubstantial entities are still powerful factors affecting our daily life. It is difficult and unnecessary to list all possible connotations that go with Shelley’s usage of the word “shadow. for Shelley the primary connotation of “shadow” is insubstantiality or Nevertheless.And when in The Mask of Anarchy Hypocrisy is described as “Clothed with the Bible. villains. the Spirit is surely “awful” for his dreadful countenance and dread-causing potentiality. 146-7). everyone carries a shadow.. 142). Humans are forever under the sway of shadows. through which we are told that the things we perceive as real are actually unreal like shadows on a wall while reality is to be found in the ideas or forms which are intelligible only when we ascend into the light of reason or of the Good. Ozymandias. when Shelley refers to “Intellectual Beauty” as the “awful shadow of some unseen power” (“Hymn to Intellectual Beauty. the shadow does carry the repugnant force. who find their concrete examples in the poet’s life (his father.” in the colloquial sense of “being very bad or unpleasant. the Cenci. as we have said above. As a repugnant object. thy shadow fell on me. Hence anybody or anything repugnant to our psyche is a shadow.” 78-79). . Shelley is obsessed with two types of shadows. any shadow can be described as “awful. we can assert that although shadows are Platonic nonentities. tyrants. the Eton or Oxford authorities. When to the sky-lark Shelley says. etc. Although the shadow is not necessarily evil. Hence. Likewise.

and its inconstant visits. which are the embodiments of “Intellectual Beauty” or virtuous goodness or celestial divinity.).” beginning of the poem. by the idealized.). so many Constantias. Shelley is strongly awed by but also wholly obsessed with what I would call the Shelleyan type of shadows.. anti-despotic.” it is still unseen.. truth to human life. Shelley says: The awful shadow of some unseen Power Floats though unseen among us. enunciated or suggested in his “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty. though sometimes paradoxically. In the fourth stanza. revolutionary heroes and heroines (Zeinab and Kathema. we find this statement first: “Man were immortal.--visiting This various world with as inconstant wing As summer winds that creep from flower to flower. Act 2. In the second stanza. Gives Here it is certified that the awful shadow does have light./Keep with thy glorious train 14 In the gloomy state.” 7. its invisibility. grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream” (32-36). so many “thronging shadows fast and thick” falling on Shelley’s eyes and striking in him a “deep and breathless awe. 3& 149). & 33). and it is further suggested that the shadow can give grace and . as it were. On the other hand. Prometheus and Asia. “Thy light alone .8 The characteristics of Shelley’s “awful shadow” are fully. etc. the adored Emily in Epipsychidion. unknown and awful as thou art. the initiated Ianthe in Queen Mab. the Spirit is now In such a away from the world and gloom is “cast on the daylight of this earth” (22). Intellectual Beauty is hailed as “Spirit of Beauty” and said to be able to consecrate with its own hues all that it shines upon. it is certainly mysterious and therefore awful. etc. the “mighty Darkness” which will “wrap in lasting night Heaven’s kingless throne” (Prometheus Unbound. and even by the idealized Demogorgon. which is like an unquiet dream. This shadow is awful probably because of its origin. does it have hues and can it shine? Anyway. the poet goes on to the third stanza and says. Here one question arises: If Intellectual Beauty is an unseen shadow.etc. 23-24. but it is there floating among us or visiting this various world inconstantly. and disappear” (“To Constantia. the ruined Beatrice in The Cenci./Didst thou. like the swift change/Of dreams unseen” till “the world’s shadowy walls are past. If it does. and omnipotent. (1-4) In these four beginning lines. we are informed that Intellectual beauty is an awful (awe-inspiring) shadow. Laon and Cythna. the shadow belongs to or comes from “some unseen Power. such as exemplified by the idealized female idols in his works (the unnamed but pursued maid in Alastor. All such idealized figures are.).

in the fifth stanza Shelley says that the shadow fell on him and made him excited “at that sweet And. man would become immortal and omnipotent. And finally in the last stanza Shelley prays: Thus let thy power. Leigh Hunt.) and beloved women (Harriet. etc. It But. it is not a ghost the poet as a boy sought for. In this stanza. Shelley asks the messenger not to depart as its shadow came. then. etc. Whom. to bring grace and truth. a dying Here we see that Shelley is speaking for the awful shadow’s dark. flame does look all the brighter if it is put in a darker place. as it is. thy spells did bind To fear himself. to my onward life supply Its calm—to one who worships thee. Spirit fair. is indeed paradoxical that darkness can nourish a dying flame. to mankind. Claire. in the sixth stanza. time when winds are wooing/All vital things” (56-57). Since Intellectual Beauty as the awful shadow is not an evil spirit but a good angel. though an awful shadow. (78-94) From the above analyzed enunciation with its suggestions we can conclude that Intellectual Beauty as the awful shadow is indeed not an evil power but a good. thought.) as well as all those heroes and heroines in his works may be counted as 15 . which like the truth Of nature on my passive youth Descended. The poet believes that Intellectual Beauty. the awful shadow is in fact the “awful Loveliness”: it can help him free the world from dark slavery and prevent the world from death. from getting into the grave of a dark reality. It is mysteriously dark and unseen as a shadow. Mary. like darkness to a dying flame (44-45). useful power to mankind. Awful as it is. in the last three lines of this stanza. So. and if it along with the train could keep firm state in man’s heart. so to speak. Shelley says that he then vowed to dedicate his powers to this awful Loveliness so that the world would be freed from its dark slavery. thus. it is not among the “poisonous names with which our youth is fed” (53). but it is forever there ready to visit us when we need it. then. it has a glorious train and it is therefore able to shine. to make us sympathetic. and to make us love all humankind. Its origin may be the Supreme Goodness. to give us light. Byron. Intellectual Beauty is hailed as “messenger of sympathies/That wax and wane in lovers’ eyes” (42-43). This is a belief uttered in the subjunctive mood. lest the grave should be a dark reality. And then it is called nourishment to human thought. For Shelley. mysterious power to nourish human So.firm state within his heart” (38-40). Shelley’s good friends (Hogg. to nourish human thought. and love all human kind. to supply calm. has a glorious train.

beautiful ones comparatively small. yet deviate from it insensibly. Shelley (especially the early Shelley). and even massive. (311) 16 . it often makes a strong deviation. he further avers: “No voice from some sublimer world hath ever/To sage or poet these responses given--/Therefore the name of God and ghosts and Heaven. Burke also postulates that . despondency and hope?” (23-24). He does not believe in the doctrines of the Orthodox Church.. Shelley believes in “some sublimer world. beauty should not be obscure. the aesthetic ideas of the beautiful and the sublime were very popular. what is this unseen Power and what is this sublimer world? The 18th century preceding Shelley’s Romantic Age was an Age of Enlightenment.among “the glorious train” that have worked with Intellectual Beauty (the Shellyan awful shadow) to help the poet fight against the bad ghosts (the Jungian awful shadows) personified in the villains. propensity. as we know. beauty should be light and delicate. beauty should be smooth. is a source of the sublime” (310). Now. yet. In the poem.. and polished. the great ought to be solid. he asks an ethical question that has. rather than aesthetic. in actuality. perhaps. as shown in this poem. or operates in a manner analogous to terror. V. etc. The Ethical Sublime In “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty. one being founded on pain. that is to say. sublime objects are vast in their dimensions. in which rational inquiries were made into all sorts of things. despots.” Edmund Burke asserts that “whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger. They are indeed ideas of a very different nature. rugged and negligent. is an atheist. the other on pleasure. beauty should shun the right line. and when it deviates. in his life and works./Remain the records of their vain endeavor” (23-28). Regarding this question.” Shelley has indeed turned intellectual beauty into spiritual goodness. or is conversant about terrible objects. the great ought to be dark and gloomy. In his “Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. thus exposing his ethical. But. must be the abode of “some unseen power” which is the origin of the awful shadow called Intellectual Beauty. puzzled him all his life: “Why man has such a scope/For love and hate.” which provides no voice concerning human ethical problems and. the great in many cases loves the right line.. Among the topics inquired into. the great. whatever is in any sort terrible.

g. Darkness.. Kant in his Critique of Judgment has. but only in our ideas. (395) Sublimity .. (392) . Shelley’s “some sublimer world” must be a 17 . the sublime is that in comparison with which everything else is small. the mere ability to think which shows a faculty of the mind surpassing every standard of sense. on the other hand. and yet its totality is also present to thought.. Everything that excites this feeling in us. Solitude and Silence. (396) Based on such 18th-century aesthetic ideas of the sublime and the beautiful as Burke and Kant have expounded. .. the sublime is that. does not reside in anything of nature. but only in our mind. according to Angela Leighton. Thus the beautiful seems to be regarded as the representation of an indefinite concept of understanding. so far as in it or by occasion of it boundlessness is represented. . the sublime as that of a like concept of reason. these pithy statements: The beautiful in nature is connected with the form of the object. “cause terror because they are spaces which no longer simply proclaim the infinite spaciousness of God. we can see. which consists in having definite boundaries. and therefore also to nature without (so far as it influences us). The sublime. e. Burke gives the idea of “general privations” such as Vacuity. (390) We call that sublime which is absolutely great..Among other examples of the sublime. the sublime is not to be sought in the things of nature. insofar as we can become conscious that we are superior to nature within. (393) The feeling of the sublime is therefore a feeling of pain arising from the want of accordance between the aesthetic estimation of magnitude formed by the imagination and the estimation of the same formed by reason.” but instead they “mark a kind of absence” (23). is to be found in a formless object.. among others.. is called then (although improperly) sublime.. Gathering and modifying the general ideas of the 18th-century sublime and beautiful. the might of nature which calls forth our forces. which.

however. which proclaims the written word inadequate by comparison to the godly imaging of the poet. which derives its vocabulary from the language of mystical transport. Thus.” But. Shelley has combined the aesthetic category of the sublime and the beautiful with his ethical ideas into a doctrine-like system which we may call the “ethical sublime. (23) Although Shelley remains a radical and an atheist throughout his life.” which in turn with its lesser light has shadows coming to visit this “various world. that in Shelley’s Platonic. which transforms the large expanses of the universe into images of the Deity.. tyranny. it also has its own light to bring us truth. the chief of which is the only real.” it naturally refers to the Supreme Goodness that resides in his “some sublimer world. evil. but has rather turned into an ethical ideal of Goodness which is ascetic by nature. hope. absolutely great” world. ethics-oriented mind. he “cannot subscribe but uneasily and anxiously to such an aesthetic” (Leighton 23). it is a boundless world “not to be sought in the To approach this world is to things of nature” though we can imagine it as a totality. Shelley’s Platonism had led him to transcend this “various world” of inconstancy into the “sublimer world” of immortality. etc. among which Intellectual Beauty is but an “awful shadow” of the Supreme Power and.” Shelley’s idea of the “ethical sublime” is best expressed in “Mont Blanc. grace. etc. then.” etc. the 18th-century sublime is an aesthetic which relies heavily on support from religious belief. In denying any “poisonous names” (“God and ghosts and Heaven. yet. feel pain probably because.” 18 . omnipotent entity with full light to produce its ethically “awful shadow. As to Shelley’s “some unseen Power. so as to defeat and annihilate the Jungian shadows of villainy. as Kant supposes. It becomes clear. I must add.) for the imagined Supreme Goodness.“great. there is “the want of accordance between the aesthetic estimation of magnitude formed by the imagination and estimation of the same formed by reason. vice. love.” Besides. there is an unnamed and unseen Power that stands supreme in the hierarchy of all eternal Forms or Ideas.” which is full of unreal and bad shadows. which converts obscure sight into imaginative visionaries. thus “awful” and “founded on pain. a world “dark and gloomy” to mankind.” According to Angela Leighton. it is even more probably because the world is no longer merely an aesthetic object of Beauty which gives pleasure.

. its pines. but the poet fears to lose” (Leighton 72). The “awful scene” the power creates may launch the poet into “a trance sublime and strange” with “One legion of wild thoughts” seeking “among the shadows that pass by.Mont Blanc. caverns. understood/By all.” Angela Leighton claims that “it is the purpose of the poem to address the landscape as a possible sign of some greater Power which the poet desires to realize as a voice” (61). glaciers. but an absolutely remote and unknown presence” (Leighton 69). 128-9). 19 “Such a Power is one that . I agree that Mont Blanc typifies for Shelley the sublime aspects of silence and solitude. and earth. but I cannot agree that Shelley is so skeptic as to deny the presence of a creative Power behind the sublime landscape and seek instead to create with his own imagination an unnamed deity that is “neither the beneficent Creator. however. the sublime peak with its “subject mountains” (62) stands not only for “some sublimer world” with its ravine of Arve. serene. In interpreting “Mont Blanc. when in the end the poet asks the question—“And what were thou. It may also become the The voice of such a power is “not “breath and blood of distant lands” (123). according to her. a world which “has a mysterious tongue” to teach “awful doubt” and “repeal/Large codes of fraud and woe” (76./Some phantom. 41. It is therefore most In the poem. nor the tyrannical Ahrimanes. The desert has come to be “Shelley’s characteristic landscape of the sublime. and inaccessible” the “still and solemn power of many sights. 80-81). Shelley. As a skeptic. Shelley “denies the presence of a creative God behind the landscape”. creative in the sense of ever-changing the imperfect present for the future perfection. The sublime landscape is then associated with the Power within it. and much of life and death” (96-97. some shade of thee [the power]. but also for “some sublimer world” in which the “everlasting universe of things/Flows through the mind” (1-2). because it is the landscape of lost presences or absent Power” (Leighton 65). Thus. and good” may “interpret [it]. rainbows and storms. where dwells “apart in its tranquility/Remote. is a skeptic. which serves to energize the poet’s imagination. or deeply feel [it]” (81-83). sublime in terms of landscape. and great./Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame/Of lightning through the tempest” (16-19). some faint image” (15. or make [it] felt. 35. etc./And many sounds. This still and solemn power may come down “in likeness of the Arve” from “the ice gulphs that gird his secret throne. crags. ice and rock. and it is like the spirit of revolution. is the highest peak of the Alps. 45-47). the Power lurking behind Mont Blanc is also the Power pushing the West Wind: it is at once destroyer and preserver. which is the origin also of his own creativity” (62). he “yearns for license to imagine an alternative origin of things. Such a power may bring “a flood of ruin” (107). the skeptic denies. as we know.” but a poet representing “the wise./Ghosts of all things that are. For me.

for all its silence and solitude. According to Duffy. This radical. It is in truth even more sublime for the moral highness displayed therein. indeed. can Spring be far behind?”): it is a prophetic question aiming to ethically console us rather than discourage us.” that his purpose “has hitherto been simply to familiarize the highly refined imagination of the more select classes of poetical readers with beautiful idealisms of moral excellence. forever. In the Preface to this lyrical drama. as Cian Duffy has convincingly explicated. only to sink ever. physically unbound at the Precipice than through being morally unbound by his hate. the concluding question of this poem is like that of “Ode to the West Wind” (“O Wind. but a positive question to suggest that the “thou” or the Power. It is this sublimity that dispels the factor (namely. and sea. The Assassins (1814). Now. Shelley tells us that he has “a passion for reforming the world. these images imply. the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature. impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends” (Ingpen. is connected with the Assassins depicted in Shelley’s little-known and unfinished short story. But a prior and greater revolution occurs in Prometheus’s heart. He changes his hate for Jupiter into pity./If Winter comes. is actually not mere vacancy: it is rather a mysterious presence always exercising its influences for the Good. II. less through being of Prometheus with Asia and to bring about another Golden Age celebrated at the end of the work. outwardly we do see a revolution in the drama: the Car of the Hour arrives and Jupiter is dethroned.” and that “Prometheus is. 174 & 172). an awful. His boundless pity for his enemy and his boundless love for mankind are what makes him especially sublime. natural . The locale is no less sublime than Mont Blanc. What lurks behind Mont Blanc may be a “dormant revolutionary potential” which. phenomenon—an instance of the natural sublime. hate) 20 Violent revolution is itself. In other words. by likening the sect’s dormant revolutionary potential to “awful” natural phenomena (the “imprisoned earthquake” or charging “lightning-shafts”) Shelley figures the Assassins—in the most explicit possible terms—as the agents of Necessity. moral reform is part of the necessity to effect the marital reunion Prometheus achieves his sublimity. down./If to the human mind’s imaginings/Silence and solitude were vacancy?”—it is not a negative question to deny the “thou” or the Power as nothing but vacancy.and stars. as it were. (90) Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound is set mostly in a Ravine of Icy Rocks in the Indian Caucasus.

and the Underworld as well as the Fates. void Abysm” to reach (2.3.4. And it is even more paradoxical to let a dark entity from the abyss soar high to heaven to dethrone Jupiter and bring him back down to everlasting darkness.” and says. of consideration. The poem. He is. Demogorgon is the father of the Sky. when Jupiter calls him “Awful Shade” and asks him what he is. as light from the meridian Sun” (2.” and therefore Asia. is strongly influenced by 21 . contradictorily. The Triumph of Life.” In the drama. which is aesthetically dark and ethically awful but has real light like the Sun to dispel the Jungian shadow of Jupiter and bring hope to mankind by helping. identifiable with the Genius of the Earth But.72).1 & 2-3). Paul Foot reminds us that by etymology the name “Demogorgon” means “people-monster. however.4./Mightier than thee. as Sandro Jung has suggested. if we regard Demogorgon as the greatest Shelleyan shadow.causing his disintegration and makes possible his reunion with Asia. Demogorgon is described as “a tremendous Gloom” (1. He lives in a place where one must go down through “the grey.1. Anyway.10 And for Angela Leighton he is presented “like the Power of ‘Mont Blanc. he is also described as “Ungazed upon and shapeless. Love Peacock’s account.5-7). All these paradoxes can be understood.9 Unbound” (90). the Prometheus unbound or Goodness reformed. This interpretation may be acceptable in a political way In an aesthetic and ethical way. as thou wert Saturn’s child.’ as a bleak and non-sentient alternative to the God of Christianity” (90).207). and we must dwell together/Henceforth in darkness” (3. “Eternity. It is paradoxical that the child is said to be mightier than the father. is an “agitator” to rouse people to action (194.” and “a mighty Darkness” filling “the seat of power” (2. Yet. according to Thomas and the Sovereign Power of the Terrestrial Daemons. therefore. to be sure. that makes “the essential difference between Aeschylus and Shelley’s Prometheus of “people-monster” may just go to stress the idea of “the awful or sublime aspect to the people” rather than the idea of “the revolutionary people as a monster. a Form of the supreme and eternal Goodness. who descends into his cave to question him. the Earth. Demogorgon is an enigmatic character.51-56). Commentators have usually equated Demogorgon with necessity or thought of him as process. It is also paradoxical to say Demogorgon has “rays of gloom/Dart round./Nor form. is also fraught with his idea of the ethical sublime. a “veiled form” sitting on an “ebon throne. nevertheless. In the drama.e.4. Shelley’s last and unfinished poem. neither limb. through necessity or process. this world’s another great Shelleyan shadow. yet we feel it is/A living Spirit” (2. Demogorgon replies..3-4). the etymological sense And it is this sublimity. who is his soul mate and the symbol of love. i. nor outline. “I am thy child. 197).

life is portrayed as a process of forgetting the preexisting Soul. Bacon’s. However. the poet has a somber vision of the human race: he sees a chariot moving with a captive multitude in a procession and then he finds a guide (identified as Rousseau) who helps him make sense of the pageant of life and tells his own life-story. 358. the shape within the car is “Life” (178-83).” but then a new vision bursts and the fair shape wanes in the coming light (352. as both poems are focused on the same theme: the process of life. Now. On such a day when life goes on as usual. together with Wordsworth’s idea of “true light fading into common light rather than into darkness. Moreover. Sun (288-92). Shelley’s The Triumph of Life begins with a common day when “the Sun sprang forth/Rejoicing in his splendor. but Life conquers “all but the sacred few” (128). the true Sun is the Supreme 22 And the theme is a sublime topic. the native influence of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” is also there to be felt strongly. the charioteer is blindfolded: he cannot see the chariot beams that quench the Sun. he still keeps his visionary gleam. etc. as seen in its terza rima form. suggests that the poet has not forgot his soul. its content of procession and victory embedded in the word “triumph. he only touches it with “faint lips.” its dream-vision as the framework of the story. his light has not yet faded into the light of common day. Our life is full of shadows and phantoms (Napoleon’s. The charioteer is a Janus-visaged Shadow and the Shapes drawing the chariot are lost in thick lightnings (94-97). Yet. Caesar’s. This visionary framework. especially when it involves reflection upon the purpose and the end of . In Wordsworth’s poem. The light/dark imagery is what brings sublimity into relief in the vision. The light/dark imagery may seem to be confusing.). According to Rousseau (who is likened to an old root growing to strange distortion out of the hillside). Plato’s. with a crape-like cloud overhead tempering the light (86-93). it is all clear that Shelley is here using the Platonic metaphors of the Sun with its light and shadows from the light. crouching within the shadow of a tomb. While some of the captive multitude walk mournfully within the gloom of their own shadow. I think. of losing the “visionary gleam.” which is comparable to the starlight’s fading “into the light of common day” (54-76). we may recall. Pontiffs like Gregory and John will just rise “like shadows between Man and god” till the eclipse of the true When “a Shape all light” offers Rousseau a crystal glass. and the mask/Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth” (2-3). that process. some flee from it as it were a ghost (58-60). and its moral purpose.” In Shelley’s vision. The chariot comes on the silent storm of its own rushing splendor and a deformed Shape sits within it beneath a dusky hood and double cape.Petrarch’s Trionfi and Dante’s Divine Comedy. 411-2).

177). But Shelley is no doubt a Platonist. Shelley makes Fury lament that “The In real life. and can accept the “Shape all light” VI. He was once an enthusiastic devotee to political revolutions and won his struggle for human freedom. Napoleon. Caesar. In The Triumph of Life. poetic imitation is for him not “reproduction as nearly as possible of external forms. i. he is ethics-oriented. himself as “a complete infidel. the ordinary sun is not the true Sun for ordinary people.” and regarding the “ethical sublime” as higher than the “political sublime” and the “aesthetic sublime.. Like Plato. but imitation of the ideal. and fraternity. The ordinary sun just goes Our life is the process and outcome of a war. charioteer. In Prometheus Unbound. evils. for the ethical ideals of liberty. seeing a purposeful cosmos directed towards the Good. Shelley describes Julian. which may eclipse the true Sun and fade its true light.Goodness: it produces the light of hope.) are also not among “the sacred few” to free themselves from Life’s triumphal chain. his charioteer but a blindfolded Shadow.” That is why he describes Julian (his vicarious self) as a man “for ever speculating how good may be made superior” (Julian and Maddalo. ranking Goodness as the supreme Idea. But. name as a radical. can be better than Rousseau and the men divine. believing in the invisible. and the outcome is often a triumph. in which the victor is but a deformed Shape beneath a dusky hood. splendor or lightnings. and his horses but invisible beings lost in thick lightnings. but to weep barren tears. Conclusion In Shelley’s The Triumph of Life. too. villains and But we know his radicalism was but the result of his will to good want power. equality. The church men divine are likewise exempted from “the sacred few” that can detach themselves from the triumphal procession of Life. the victor and his chariot. intellectual Forms or Ideas as the eternal universals and debasing the tangible. to make all sorts of unreal shadows or phantoms. However. military and political giants (Alexander.625-6).e. preaching virtuous goodness or “intellectual beauty. Shelley had seen tyrants and despots. physical objects as unreal shadows or phantoms removed from the ultimate reality. after all. and drink from her crystal glass with true effect. in Jungpen. beauty and goodness.”11 Like Plato. Victory as embodied in the chariot may have its glory. So. of truth./The powerful goodness want: worse need for them” (1. Plato is not among “the sacred few” that are not conquered by Life. he is an idealist. and a scoffer at all things reputed holy” (Julian 23 . horses. etc. and Only a truly good man captives are themselves but unreal phantoms or shadows. III.

“Shelley was fascinated by the aesthetic as well as the political genius of Rousseau’s writing” (119). Shelley says.” and died” (200). virtue and glory. VII. VII.” Shelley says. 194). 115). V. Even Rousseau. loved. He is a great thinker but he “feared. In fact. III. time when “the wise want love. and incoherent imagery. and those who love want wisdom” (Prometheus suggested by David Taylor in speaking of his Prometheus Unbound. A lot of his poetry certainly has the defects of shoddy workmanship. of course. suffered.. so he ought personally to be the happiest. Unbound.and Maddalo. who does not trust poetry in consideration of its In a ethical function. the best. Such defects are the result of neglecting the Occasionally. So. Smith. VI.” Rousseau has not actually drunk from the crystal glass offered by the “Shape all light. Shelley is skeptical towards the religious idea of “God” because He is conceived as a revengeful tyrant sitting on a throne in heaven much like an earthly king (King-Hele 35). and both Rousseau and Shelley sought to “change [people’s] traditional beliefs on morals and religion” (125). in Ingpen. Although Shelley was a revolutionary before a poet. “A poem is the very image He believes that poetry can of life expressed in its eternal truth” (Ingpen. 194). poetry is Shelley’s only resort for sublimating the Soul. 138). the guide in The Triumph of Life. He even asserts that as a poet is “the author to others of the highest wisdom.. did. Shelley considers poetry as the best way of moral reformation. Shelley claims that “a love of truth is the only motive which actuates the Author of this little tract” (Ingpen. According to David V. VII. Nevertheless. his writings have sparks which kindled a thousand signal fires including the French Revolution and enlightened people with the educational idea of living righteously and close to nature. he at last came to understand that Rousseau can be his guide and moral reformation is better than political revolution as a way of setting up the state of Goodness. 205). 117-8). Shelley’s large quantity of poetry is subject to any new study or interpretation. there is a spirit within him at enmity with nothingness and dissolution” In A Defense of Poetry. pleasure. Shelley was blamed and punished for being an atheist and skeptic. “We live on. In real life. unvisualizable descriptions. (Ingpen. as intrinsic beauty while striving for extrinsic goodness. He also says that “man is a being of high aspirations . VI. awaken and enlarge the mind “by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought” and poetic imagination is the “great instrument of moral good” (Ingpen. fails to become one of “the sacred few. But in the Advertisement to The Necessity of Atheism. and the most illustrious of men” (Ingpen. In his essay “On Life. 177). Shelley may demonstrate his attention to the intrinsic form of the work as a means to express his 24 . 627). unlike Plato. hated. and in living we lose the apprehension of life” (Ingpen. the wisest.

/Within my heart is the lamp of love. they represent two poetic views of life: one somber. in Bush 298). atheism and skepticism. “Love its motivating force. 1820. “If I would cross the shade of night. death makes him “a portion of the loveliness/Which once he made more lovely” (Adonais. And I agree with Donald Reiman that Love and Hope are cornerstones of Shelley’s ethical philosophy. Goodness. I think. 379-80). a form of his intellectual beauty. Yet. This magnanimous Love is “the bond and the sanction which connects not only man with man. a community with what we experience within ourselves” (“On Love. however. more often than not. from Keats. the Spirit of Solitude.” in Ingpen. the other shiny. VI. While Keats’s primary concern is with Beauty. 201). His irresponsible involvement with women. 1818. I think he does not like Shelley’s “ethical sublime. the other spirit says. in Bush 279). In “The Two Spirits: An Allegory. his tendency towards radicalism./And that is day!” (10-12). and Hope for the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil the sustainer of its energy” (542-3). and even his impractical Platonism and idealism may be repugnant to a lot of his contemporary moralists and after.ethical or political idea. in pursuit of his ideal shadow. 201). As an aesthete.” Shelley lets a spirit warn the other that the shadow of ruin and desolation is always tracking one’s flight of fire like night coming over day. he died like the unnamed poet in the poem. And all of Shelley’s poetry is the expression of this Love. But when we consider his entire poetic career in the light of “Intellectual Beauty” or virtuous goodness or the “ethical sublime. Keats does not like Wordsworth’s “egotistical sublime” (letter to Richard Woodhouse. but with every thing which exists” (“On Love. VI. including the works containing the Jungian shadows (awful for being repugnant) as well as those containing the Shelleyan shadows (awful for being dreadful and admirable) or both.” who would not repeat Byron’s words written to John Murry at the time of Shelley’s death: “You were all brutally mistaken about Shelley. October 27.” either. his language is abandoned to And this is where he differs most emotional and sentimental treatment of his theme. Shelley is Alastor. In response to this warning. the beautiful child of Urania. without 25 . who was.” in Ingpen. for he wishes Shelley to curb his magnanimity (letter to Shelley. Shelley’s private life may be not so admirable as his poetic career. August 16. The shiny view is based on the poet’s hope for and faith in Love. Shelley’s is with Keats is Adonais. Harold Bloom takes the two spirits as the Blakean Specter and Emanation (323-5). Shelley’s magnanimity is seen in his definition of Love: “It is that powerful attraction towards all that we conceive or fear or hope beyond ourselves when we find within our own thoughts the chasm of an insufficient void and seek to awaken in all things that are.

9. Abrams holds that Prometheus is like Blake’s Albion: he was once whole but has fallen into division. 11.. Quoted. wn. 663). 5th Edition. the best and least selfish man I ever knew. but the name “Constantia” can refer to any constant image whose voice.html). The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Notopoulos differentiates and discusses three kinds of Platonism: natural. html. lingers/Overshadowing [Shelley] with soft and lulling wings” (“To and Goodness” (a lecture by Rudolf Steiner). 16. 2. The point is made by Melvin Solve in his Shelley: His Theory of p. 2. from online passages under the headings of “About Trinity.stasnford. Vol. H.exception. 10. p. direct.” “A Philosophy of Living. From the definition of “beauty” in Webster’s New World Dictionary. I never knew one who was not Notes 1.htm. 2nd College Edition.rsarchive. and indirect Platonism. and Goodness” ( Constantia was one of the nicknames of Claire Clairmont. 801. www. 4.” and “Truth. 5.html). Beauty. M. and quoted in Earl Schulze’s Shelley’s Theory of Poetry.personal.integralworld. TruGoo_index. See note 7 to Endymion in Abrams et al. See Keats’s letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22. See the entry of “Plato’s Aesthetics” in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato. 1982. his Natural Supernaturalism. The poem was written obviously to celebrate Claire. only to redeem his lost integrity through love. The websites are: ( www.trinityschoolnc. 3. See note 9 in Reiman & Powers. 1819). From the Introduction to his “The Natural Theology of Beauty. Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. eds. 141. respectively. “slow rising like a Spirit. 7. a beast in comparison” (quoted in Abrams et al. p. 299-307.” 1-2). See his The Platonism of Shelley. See 26 . 8. Truth.

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陰影 4. Chung Shan Medical University.nchu. 柏拉圖主義、理想主義、極端主義、無神論 ________ Chung-hsuan Tung is currently Professor of the Department of Applied Foreign Languages. 崇宏與美麗 7. 心智美 3.「美即善,善即美」 : 雪萊的「可怖陰影」與「倫理崇宏」 董 崇 選 真、善、美為人類三大價值。濟慈 (Keats) 認為美、真相等,雪萊則認為美、善 合一。雪萊深受柏拉圖影響,其理想主義以善為至高實體。在此理念下,其詩作 闡明「心智美」(intellectual beauty)為「內在美」或「德之善」 。其心中常存至善 至美之「可怖陰影」 ,而體現「倫理崇宏」之道德美學。 關鑑字詞: 1. 倫理崇宏 2. National Chung Hsing University. 真、善、美 6. and Part-time Professor of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. 可怖陰影 5. Taiwan Email: 29 .